The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is one of the most widely read children's books of all time. It follows the evolving relationship of a boy and a tree through their lives. Many interpret the tree as Mother Nature and the boy as humanity demonstrating how society has a tendency to exploit its natural resources.
You have probably bought forest products like lumber for a home reno or notepaper for school supplies and wondered how your purchase affects the forest it came from. You may feel guilty, but you shouldn't if the forest products you buy are harvested sustainably and certified to internationally recognized standards.
As the eyes of the world move away from the medals table in Rio, for those of us in the sustainability business our focus shifts to Honolulu for the World Conservation Congress. Like the Olympics this is a big deal. Meeting once every four years, it is hosted by an affiliate of the UN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
On June 6, much of the world will be celebrating World Environment Day, the annual United Nations day to raise awareness and action for the environment. As the UN puts it, World Environment Day is an "opportunity for everyone to realize the responsibility to care for the Earth and to become agents of change."
Fires are a natural part of many boreal forest ecosystems, but the massive blaze raging in Alberta is a catastrophe that threatens human health, the economy and the environment. This current episode in the Fort McMurray area is remarkable in its size, extent and human impact. Data from the Global Forest Watch platform provide context on what's going on with Alberta's forest fires
The island of Hispaniola, shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, is a unique case study that explains how the exploitation of natural resources can directly affect the fate of a nation. That the two countries have starkly different trajectories is largely related to how they have historically managed their natural environment.
Without the forest and the economic activity it generates, the North Shore, the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and all the other forest regions of Quebec would not have experienced the same level of economic development that has benefited all Quebecers. However, forestry activity could fall sharply in the fairly near future.
Companies in a variety of sectors are not letting potential challenges hinder their efforts to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain, however. Rather than allowing potential roadblocks to hamper sustainability efforts, corporations are harnessing technological innovations to achieve environmental and business objectives.
Earth Day is an important date on the calendar that puts the spotlight back on the planet. However, as we all grow more interconnected around the world with a greater ability to have an impact -- both positive and negative -- it's equally important to recognize that the principles of Earth Day can't be ignored the other 364 days of the year.
To further underscore the risks: Indonesia's forests contain 10 per cent of the world's plants, 12 per cent of the world's mammals, 16 per cent of the world's reptile-amphibians, and 17 per cent of the world's bird species. Massive clearance of forests, particularly primary forests, leads to extinctions, floods, reduced river flows, as well as huge fires.
It may seem like we're going off-topic here with all this talk about the various sources of greenhouse emissions, but the point remains the same -- driving a gas-powered car doesn't affect the environment as much as you think. You can throw your car away and replace it with a hybrid or a bike, if you like, but the environment will still be in trouble.
The world first heard urgent climate change warnings in 1988, issued by an international meeting of climatologists in Toronto. The evidence then was so compelling that one report declared global warming a threat to human survival second only to nuclear war and called for a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over 15 years. The anecdotes in a new film, Climate Change in Atlantic Canada, add up to an overwhelming warning that social, economic and ecological costs are rapidly mounting and we must take climate change seriously. As one person says, "If you don't believe it, just look out the window."
The IPCC just released the first of four chapters of its Fifth Assessment Report. It shows scientists are more certain now that humans are largely responsible for global warming. When they say 95 per cent certain -- as the latest report does regarding human contributions to climate change -- that's as close to certainty as science usually gets. Evidence for climate change itself is "unequivocal."
Clayoquot Sound has become known around the world as a test area for conservation and for economic activities that don't undermine the environment. Yet little progress has been made in securing legislated protection for Clayoquot's ancient forests and in advancing the title, rights and community aspirations of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations of the area.
By abandoning the UN Desertification Convention, as well as other important international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, Canada is sending the wrong message to the world community. We're saying that exporting resources like oil and timber matter more to us than contributing to dialogue and partnership on global issues.